Zac Efron, The Lucky One
At no. 2 on Friday, the Zac Efron romantic melodrama The Lucky One collected $9.13 million at 3,115 sites (about 1,000 more locations than Think Like a Man), averaging a good $2,894 per-venue according to studio estimates found at Box Office Mojo. The Lucky One is expected to score somewhere between $22-25 million by Sunday evening.
Best known as the leading lady in the nearly universally panned film adaptation of Ayn Rand’s sprawling libertarian novel Atlas Shrugged: Part 1, Taylor Schilling plays Zac Efron’s love interest in this nearly universally panned adaptation of Nicholas Sparks‘ tearjerking novel. Even though this may sound bad for Schilling, it’s not — at all. The Lucky One was a smart, high-profile career move following Atlas Shrugged, a critical and box-office disaster admired only by the American far-right.
The Lucky One has a dismal 16% approval rating among Rotten Tomatoes‘ top critics; yet, even after adjusting for inflation, if The Lucky One does reach $25 million this weekend it will end up ahead of both Ryan Gosling / Rachel McAdams‘ The Notebook (2004, approximately $17 million in 2012 dollars) and Miley Cyrus / Liam Hemsworth’s The Last Song (2010, $25.3 million after five days; it opened on a Wed.).
Now, The Lucky One will definitely remain behind Channing Tatum / Amanda Seyfried’s Dear John (2010), which opened with $30.4 million, and slightly behind Kevin Costner / Robin Wright’s Message in a Bottle (1999), which opened with approx. $26 million in 2012 dollars. Important point: both of the aforementioned romantic dramas were released in time for the box-office-boosting Valentine’s Day. The Lucky One had no such advantage.
And I should add that movie adaptations of Nicholas Sparks’ novels may be good business in North America, but they’re considerably less so internationally. The Notebook, The Last Song, and Shane West / Mandy Moore’s A Walk to Remember (2002) all performed between two-to-three times better in the US / Canada than elsewhere. Richard Gere / Diane Lane’s Nights in Rodanthe earned about the same — a so-so $41-$42 million — domestically and abroad, while Message in a Bottle, thanks to the presence of Kevin Costner and Paul Newman in a supporting role, was an exception to the rule, scoring about 20% more overseas than at the domestic box office.
Something else: if The Lucky One does reach $25 million, it’ll be Zac Efron’s biggest opening since High Musical 3: Senior Year’s $42.03 million (not adjusted) in 2007. 17 Again opened with $23.72 (about $24.8 million adjusted) in April 2009; Charlie St. Cloud was a box-office disappointment, grossing $12.38 million on opening weekend and cuming at $31.16 million in 2010.
But this has been a good year for Efron, what with The Lucky One overperforming, Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax grossing $205 million in North America alone, and the news that Lee Daniels‘ The Paperboy, in which Efron has the title role opposite Nicole Kidman, John Cusack, and Matthew McConaughey, has been included in the Official Competition of this year’s Cannes Film Festival.
Directed by Oscar nominee Scott Hicks (Shine) and adapted by Will Fetters (who penned the Robert Pattinson romantic melodrama Remember Me), The Lucky One also features Blythe Danner, Riley Thomas Stewart, Jay R. Ferguson, Robert Hayes, and Joe Chrest in supporting roles.
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Zac Efron / The Lucky One: Alan Markfield / Warner Bros.